Process, Event, and the Little Red Hen By Tony Cooke

Process, Event, and the Little Red Hen
By Tony Cooke

Little Red HenMany years ago at a church service, I gave an altar call and a handful of people responded; one of these being a boy in his early teens. I had a self-congratulatory thought as though I was somehow responsible for these responses. Reality came quickly as a dear lady approached and let me know how thankful she was that God had touched her grandson’s heart. This grandmother told me that she had been praying for years for her grandson to come to the Lord. I realized that “I” wasn’t the cause of this young man coming to the Lord at all. I had been privileged to have a role in the overall process, but the gospel, the Power of the Holy Spirit, and this lady’s prayers were the major components of the process that led to this glorious event.

Getting born-again is an event. Many people can remember the moment their heart was convicted and they prayed to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. That is truly a glorious event. But there was a process that preceded and led up to that event; it didn’t “just happen.” God knew you before the foundation of the world. Jesus came and performed the great work of redemption in His death, burial, and resurrection. Then the Holy Spirit came and worked through laborers to get you the gospel and to draw you to the point of faith.

Once the event of the new birth occurred in our lives, it launched us into another process: discipleship – being a fully committed follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Praying “the sinners prayer” wasn’t a final step; it was a first step. Billy Graham said, “Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion – it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.”

The Day of Pentecost was an event for the 120 gathered in the upper room, but it wasn’t an event for the sake of the event itself. It was a catalyst for other events and processes that were to follow. That glorious event launched those affected into a lifestyle (or process) of serving, witnessing, and continually being filled with and being led by the Spirit of God.

The word “event” comes from a Latin word meaning “to happen.” It refers to an outcome, a result, or an occurrence. In physics, an event is “an occurrence that is sharply localized at a single point in space and instant of time.” On the other hand, “process” refers to various steps, changes, or actions that progressively build upon one another and lead to a certain outcome or result.

Thanksgiving dinner may be the event, but just ask the cook; it took a process to get ready for and to prepare for the event. A team winning the championship game is an event, but all of the practicing and preparation by the winning team was a process. It’s very easy to focus on the event and to prize it above all else, while at the same time forgetting or not appreciating the process (or processes) that made the event possible.

Mature Believers Value Both Process and Event

I don’t know what it is about human nature, but I think all of us tend to love the event, but not care too much for the process. We look for the destination, but we don’t always appreciate the journey. We tend to love the results, but we don’t always want to take the steps necessary to experience the results.

One of David’s mighty men was named Eleazar. 2 Samuel 23:7 says, “He killed Philistines until his hand was too tired to lift his sword, and the LORD gave him a great victory that day. The rest of the army did not return until it was time to collect the plunder!” The victory and the collecting of the spoils was a great event. The process that led to the event was the battle. Eleazar embraced the process, but everyone else only wanted to enjoy the event that followed.

That reminds me of the story many of us read as a child called “The Little Red Hen.” Do you remember it? The little red hen lived with a duck, a pig, and a cat. The hen found a grain of corn, planted it, harvested it, took the kernels to be turned into flour, and made the flour into bread. At every step, she asked the others if they would help her, and always received a negative response. However, when she sat down to eat the bread, everyone else wanted to partake. The story perfectly illustrates how people love the event (the finished product), but don’t necessarily want to participate in the process.

You’ve probably heard about the struggle a butterfly undergoes as it works its way out of its chrysalis (cocoon). It is a struggle (a process) as it works and fights its way out, but it is that very struggle that enables the wings of the butterfly to develop properly so that it can both be and fly beautifully (the outcome or the event). There is character that is developed in our lives through the growing process that enables us to be healthy and appreciate the outcomes we later experience in life. Perhaps that’s why Proverbs 20:21 tells us, “An inheritance gained hastily at the beginning will not be blessed at the end.”

For us…

A Sunday morning church service is an event, but all the prayer, planning, and preparation that goes on behind the scenes is a process.

The rapture of the church is an event, but “occupying until He comes” is a process.

Hearing “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” will be an event, but the obedience that leads up to that is a process. 2 Timothy 2:5 says, “if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned [the event] unless he competes according to the rules [the process].

Mike Krzyzewski of Duke’s basketball team said, “Our goal is not to win. It’s to play together and play hard. Then, winning takes care of itself.” At first glance, his statement seems to be counter-intuitive, but he’s differentiating between process and event. He’s saying that if his team will focus on the right components of the process, they’ll experience the right outcome (or event).

Likewise, famed boxer of yesteryear, Joe Frazier noted, “You can map out a fight plan or a life plan. But when the action starts, you’re down to your reflexes. That’s where your roadwork shows. If you cheated on that in the dark of the morning, you’re getting found out now under the bright lights.” The training in the dark of the morning he referred to is the process; the big match under the bright lights is the event.

Over the years, I’ve observed that some Christians are thrill-seekers, always pursuing a greater spiritual high (event) than their last one. They travel here, there, and everywhere looking for the most dynamic services they can find. The more sensational the better. Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m thankful for services where God touches people in profound and meaningful ways, but “events” that we have with God should lead us into a process of transformation, service, obedience, and discipleship; not simply cause us to pursue more events.

I remember hearing Brother Hagin say something once that really shocked me. He said that often, instantaneous healings are more of a curse than a blessing. I couldn’t fathom that being true until he explained what he had observed over the years. He said that when people received an instantaneous healing, it was often based on the faith, gift, or anointing of another person, and they often lost that healing. Then, they had no idea of what to do to receive healing. However, when people received healing as a result of a process…of their faith being built on the word of God, and allowing His word to be medicine to their flesh, they not only received their healing, but they also knew how to maintain their healing. Of course, we appreciate instant healings (Jesus ministered these consistently), but let’s understand what Brother Hagin was communicating.

Let’s celebrate and fully pursue both great processes and great events. Like so many of the things God makes available to us, it’s really not an either/or proposition. Most often, it’s a matter of both/and. Let’s go after and actively embrace everything that God has for us, whether it’s in the form of a process or an event!